Barbara Walters made a stupid comment on her ABC program, The View, this week when she told her viewers how uncomfortable she felt sitting next to a women breastfeeding her baby on an airplane. Flickerbug watched the show and recounts the gory details:
Ms. Walters commented how she was luckily separated, by her hairdresser in the center seat, from the woman in the aisle who needed to breastfeed her child on the flight. Not only did she comment on how she found this disturbing to “view,” she questioned why this woman wouldn’t have the decency to cover up.
Doesn’t ABC provide her with a producer? Aren’t producers supposed to prevent celebrities like her from making stupid statements on air which are going to offend a significant portion of their female viewing audience (and for Pete’s sake, she does a daytime talk show!)? It only goes to show that Barbara is a media dinosaur, born of another era and maybe it’s time to retire her to wherever good dinosaurs go when they’re no longer useful to the species. But I sorta wish Stone Phillips or Sean Hannity or Bill O’Reilly had said it because they certainly would agree with Barbara and it’d be so much more fun to see them skewered mercilessly by breastfeeding mommies everywhere (and their supportive spouses–of which I am one). Barbara so deserved the 200 mommies converging on ABC’s headquarters in Manhattan for a public ‘lact-in’ (remember those sit-in of the 60s?). The New York Times carries a story about the demonstration against stupid media celebrities who open their mouths on the air:
The protest…brought about 200 women to ABC’s headquarters yesterday. They stood nursing their babies in the unmistakably public venue of Columbus Avenue and West 67th Street. They held signs reading, “Shame on View” and “Babies are born to be breastfed.” Ms. Walters, who remarked a few weeks ago on the show that the sight of a woman breast-feeding on an airplane next to her had made her uncomfortable, said through a spokesman that “it was a particular circumstance and we are surprised that it warrants a protest”
Not only did Barbara stick her foot in her mouth, her spokesperson just shoved her other foot in there too. “Surprised that it warrants a protest?” Ain’t that just dandy. Old lady who probably never even breastfed herself expresses disdain for a good portion of the female population and, what did she expect, flowers??! I say more power to these mothers. Breastfeed wherever you need to. If someone else has a problem with it–make it their problem and not yours. And if, God forbid, a business refuses service to you or asks you to adjourn to the bathroom, you just bring 100 mothers to their front door and make them rethink their dinosaur attitudes. The sooner people realize that the breast is not a sex organ, but a means to sustain life, the sooner they’ll advance into the early 21st century. I especially liked this comment in the article:
“It’s like any other prejudice. They have to get used to it,” said Rebecca Odes, co-founder of The New Mom blog, who attended the ABC protest. "People don’t want to see it because they feel uncomfortable with it, and they feel uncomfortable with it because they don’t see it.”
That’s precisely right. Generations of men have ingrained into older women that it’s insulting or offensive to see a woman breastfeed in public. But why settle for the received wisdom when it’s prejudiced and just plain wrong? After an especially nasty run in with my own mother (one of Barbara’s fellow dinosaurs) who fled the room when my wife nursed our eldest son in her presence, I noticed this story about women protesting when the morons who run Newburgh airport removed a piece of public art which displayed (are you ready for this?) a mother feeding her newborn. I wrote my own blog post about it.
Many women today wear tops that expose some or most of their breasts, but when a woman is partially exposed feeding her child, people make a stink. Barbara can kiss my babies’ breast-fed butts.
melissa knox-raab says
The NY TImes article appeared on my daughter’s first birthday. I am breastfeeding her–of course, she’s on solids now too, but bredastfeeds quite a bit and where I live–a medium sized German city–no one has said anything to me on the tram or the bus, although occasionally some kindly elderly person addresses the baby with: “Does that taste good?” (in a friendly manner). I am always amazed at the American reaction. I keep storing up snappy replies for the time when somebody tells me not to breastfeed in public but noone ever does. But if they did stop me in a restaurant (they’ve stopped friends ofmine in the US) and asked me to feed the baby in a ladies room, I’d say, “Do you like to eat among toilets?” neither does my baby
I think, if you need to feed the baby, you can excuse yourself to the restroom or your vehicle. I am the eldest of 6 six and my mother NEVER breastfed in public. If anything new mothers should push for breastfeeding sections. I like kids alot, but I have no regret in saying that it bugs me when some woman just whips out her breast in the mall or a department store and starts feeding. There are also breast pumps that you can purchase and put the breast milk in a bottle. I was breastfed, but I would NEVER breastfeed my child in public. I am so adimate about how I feel, I have been known to leave a restuarant because the wom next to me was breastfeeding. My reply to her was I can’t eat while the kid eats. I personally think it is in bad tatse and I know the next remark is “You are not comfortable with your body” Yes, yes I am, but I believe some things should be done in private. If people don’t like other people’s opinions and get offended by a celebrity, maybe we should just go back to Nazi Germany where nothing could be said.
And just to be a bitch: You really aren’t supposed to bring “outside food” into a restuarant.
alex simon says
I am continually amazed at how people bring up their children, but any doctor will tell you that breastfeeding is a nobrainer in terms of how good it is for your baby. I’ll never forget when my daughter was one and one of my husband’s friend’s wife told my husband that it wasn’t good that I was still breastfeeding her. We had recently moved to their town and the next day she took me to her pediatrician. He asked me (in her presence) what kind of schedule my daughter was on. I answered that she wasn’t on a schedule and in fact I breastfed on demand. He stood up, advanced on me with outstretched hand and a huge smile, “Congratulations, Madame! (I was in Paris)” he said. “French women are too selfish to do that…it’s the best thing you can do for your child.”
I don’t know how to enumerate all the benefits of breastfeeding, but it goes way beyond nutrition– it’s all over health, brains, beauty, closeness, sensitivity. The list is endless.
Richard Silverstein says
I can’t begin to enumerate the ways in which R’s comment above is wrong-headed:
Why? You’re sentencing these moms to “separate but equal” status. They’re not different from you but they still should go somewhere else to do what they need to do. Well, the Supreme Court has already said that’s unconstitutional treatment for African-Americans, so why should it be OK to treat breastfeeding moms the same way?
No, breastfeeding should be ‘mainstreamed’ so people like you are forced to deal with it as an everyday occurrence.
I hope that woman you insulted in the restaurant turned her head & ignored your insulting comment. That’s precisely what you deserved. Let me ask you: of the two of you–the baby or you–which one deserved precedence in terms of the importance of your eating–you or the baby? That’s a no-brainer. The baby needed to eat. If you didn’t like the situation you’re entitled to leave, which you did. That baby & her mom shouldn’t have been penalized due to your ignorance.
You say you’re not uncomfortable with your own body. Maybe not…except for when it’s used in a public God-given way to provide sustenance for your own baby. Then, you’re pretty damned uncomfortable it appears.
And what’re you on about regarding breatfeeding moms being like Nazis. Babraba Walters and her co-hosts on The View are spreading completely false information about breastfeeding–information that will actually harm a baby’s health if followed by moms in their audience. So breastfeeding moms should let this harmful information go out to the public & say nothing about it? Sorry, no dice.
And your closing comment about breast milk in a restaurant being “outside food” is beyond bitchy, it’s idiotic. So idiotic it doesn’t even deserve further discussion.
Well all I can say to the wildy ridiculous idea that I hide in order to nurse is that after sepnding 12 years lactating to serve 5 children, if I had gone to the ladies room every time I nursed I would most certainly have missed most of my adult life. The idea may work for “nursing lite” mothers who make a token effort so they can say they did it, but not for those who truly dedicate themselves to nurturing their child properly. Not to mention the fact that the minute you introduce a bottle/breast pump situation, you are sabotaging the nursing relationship. Mothers who work and pump can attest to this – it is a valiant battle of the milk supply they fight. To further exacerbate their problem (or to introduce it into the nursing relationship of a mother who has been able to make the family concessions necessary to stay home full-time) is sensless and illustraes a complete lack of understanding of the delicate supply-and-demand relationship.
Richard Silverstein says
The main thing to remember when talking about breastfeeding is that there is no “one size fits all” solution. Almost everyone except Barbara Walters and her fellow ignoramuses on “The View” agree that the more breastfeeding and breastmilk a baby can get the better. But that’s not to say that a mother who has to supplement with formula or who uses a pump (& doesn’t physically breastfeed her babies) or even who cannot breastfeed at all are doing anything wrong or less than optimal. Most babies are great at adapting to whatever the situation demands.
Our first child didn’t take well to the breast at first and was a difficult eater in general. As a result, my wife didn’t produce enough milk so we had to supplement. Our son is doing great. But our 7 month old twins took to breastfeeding like a house afire. My wife has more than enough supply and everybody’s happy. Now that my wife works full time she does have to pump. But there’s still more than enough for everyone and everyone’s happy.
There are many ways to approach this issue and none are wrong.
Rhonda Pasibe says
While I agree that breast feeding is completely natural–I think there is also a place for everything and some women are simply not modest or discreet…I would be uncomfortable if I were one of the mothers who just flung herself out of her top to let my child nurse or if I had to sit in plain view of this individual. There are many different types of people in the world and the site of one mother breastfeeding can be completely different from the next. Some women are completely comfortable exposing their entire boob without any type of cover or modesty and this type of scene is what turns many off ,
I’d think it’d be much more appropriate to go to a nice, quiet, and somewhat private place to nourish your child. Unfortunately on a plane there aren’t that many places to go–but you could still be modest while feeding. I”m not sure what the case was on Mrs. Walter’s flight but just because some women or men don’t find the site of children suckling in public, does not make them monsters.
The protesters outside ABC need to get a life and a real cause.
Richard Silverstein says
If you’re uncomfortable with women breastfeeding in public then I have trouble seeing how you feel that it is “completely natural.” And in addition the idea that a woman flings herself out of her top in public to breastfeed is totally over the top and renders your argument null & void. No breastfeeding mother I’ve ever seen or met has done anything like that & I’d challenge you to show me an example.
I’m glad that the majority of commenters at this post & my other post on Ken Schram’s diatribe against public breastfeeding feel differently than you. You don’t know how many times mother’s can’t find a “nice, quite and somewhat private place” to breastfeed. Besides, there’s no reason any woman should feel ashamed of breastfeeding in the full light of day whether or not she can find such seclusion for herself & her baby.
If you don’t find the Walters’ demonstrators’ cause important, then why did you bother to read this or comment here? And this is an important cause whether or not you agree. I wonder whether, if you’re a mother, you breastfed; and if so, how long ago was that. Because your attitudes are of an old-fashioned kind which, I’m glad to say will eventually give way to a more tolerant, open-minded view of these issues.
There’s nothing sexual or unatural about me breastfeeding my baby. I’m sad that it grosses people out because I’m just feeding my baby. THAT’S WHY I HAVE BREASTS!
TESSA JONES says
i nurse my 2 year old in public whenever she wants 90% of the time people dont even notice i am doing it. it is literally the best start you can ever give your child!! My mother breast fed all of her 5 children when cobined she breastfed for 15 years